The importance of planning has been drilled into me throughout my career. For example, I remember the leader of a merger I was working on insisting on each track team having a plan, even when the information required to build it was not yet available. I can hear him saying, “Create a plan, work the plan, change the plan.” He probably would have agreed with Lewis Caroll’s observation: “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will get you there.”
When I first presented my change plan to him, he proceeded to poke holes in it, looking for small cracks that would expose weaknesses that hadn’t been addressed (even if the information to close the holes was not yet available). It was part of the process of building a good plan, and at the time, a primary contributor to my stress level.
The habit of planning is now well ingrained in me. I tend to jump into planning mode as soon as I have a project to lead. Until a plan is created, I carry around a tension that gnaws at me. I feel like I am on the starting line, adrenaline pumping, looking ahead, hand gripping the gear shift, revving my engine…and then revving my engine again. It is exhausting and doesn’t get me anywhere.
A plan leads to motion and action. If it doesn’t take me where I need to go, I change it based on what I have learned. And what I have learned builds my knowledge and experience for future plans.
Here is my ‘write a book’ plan as it stands today, which is in its fifth revision. As I ‘work it,’ I expect it will continue to change. If not, then I’ll disappointed because the changes will lead to a better plan and a better book. One thing for sure; it will keep me in motion. You can’t get to the finish line if you don’t leave the starting line, no matter how revved up you are.